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Solve 50 Problems in 50 Days

Peter Smart‘s Solve 50 Problems in 50 Days is a blend of storytelling and design. As the title describes, Peter set out to solve 50 problems, large and small, and presented the experience through an interactive map with stories placed across it.

2517 miles, 15 beds, 12 interviews, 10 cities, 38 cups of coffee, 1 adventure

I’m on an adventure – to explore the limits of design’s ability to solve social problems, big and small. To do this I attempted to solve 50 problems in 50 days using design. I also spent time with 12 of Europe’s top design firms.

Some of the solutions were problematic, some were unnecessary, but more were exciting. Highlights for me were a method to overcome language barriers at hostels, a way to share history through audio graffiti, a simple way to make finding wifi hotspots intuitive, and a solution for note taking in shared books without defacing the pages.

Peter conducted interviews with other designers, and one that caught my attention was with Jody Boernhert. Jody, along with other designers, suggested that design should be applied to social problems:

I believe designers can help a great deal more than they do at the moment. If image-makers were to use their skills towards helping people develop a more holistic understanding of their place in the world – that’s the type of building block that we need to create a better world.

But, today images function in exactly the opposite way. They function to conceal and impact, to persuade people to buy things rather than help people understand the consequences of the things that they buy.

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